China, like many countries, is hoping that the new administration in the US will adopt a more cordial approach to foreign relations than its predecessor.
As Cui Tiankai, China’s ambassador to the US, tweeted after Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th US president on Wednesday: “China looks forward to working with the new administration to promote [the] sound & steady development of China-US relations and jointly address global challenges in public health, climate change & [economic] growth.”
What approach Biden will take to bilateral relations, which were set on a downward spiral by his predecessor Donald Trump, is a key question that will no doubt be answered sooner rather later in his first 100 days.
Judging by what the new US president has done during his first few hours in office, there is cause for cautious optimism. It seems that his administration is not only determined to get control of the public health crisis in the US but that it will honour the international obligations of the US. Abandoning the destructive unilateralism that has caused so much damage over the past four years will enable the US to engage with other countries more rationally and reasonably.
Among Biden’s first-day-in-office acts as president was to make mask-wearing mandatory, a necessary step to rein in the spread of the virus in the US and slow the runaway rate of new infections every day. Biden has also ordered the US to rejoin the World Health Organisation, demonstrating his administration is willing to join hands with the rest of the world in fighting the pandemic.
The new US leader has also reversed the previous administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change. This has fuelled hopes that he will bring the US back to other key international treaties, including the Iranian nuclear deal.
Such signals that the Biden administration will commit the US to multilateralism are welcome buds of promise. Admittedly, it will not be an easy task for the US to reboot its relations with China, as mutual trust has been severely depleted over the past four years.
It will require both courage and wisdom to repair the damage that was done by the previous administration’s China policies. The new administration could begin by refraining from making any provocative moves in relation to China’s core interests.
Editorial/CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK